The Case for Growing Native

When it comes to your landscape, there are many obvious reasons to go au naturel. We’ll let you in on a little secret: There are also some hidden benefits to choosing native plants and trees.

The benefits of going native with your landscape are plentiful. Among them: minimal maintenance, less watering and little-to-no use of fertilizers and pesticides, to name a few.

In addition to these obvious advantages, a landscape with native plants and trees has hidden benefits to the environment and atmosphere.

Plants utilize photosynthesis to store carbon that would otherwise end up in the atmosphere as harmful carbon dioxide. A majority of that stored carbon ends up underground in the root systems and soil — instead of wafting about the environment.

Native plants also create positive effects for the nitrogen cycle. Nitrous dioxide is hundreds of times more dangerous to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. All too often, nitrogen fertilizer is applied to lawns at far greater rates than necessary. Native plants, on the other hand, require less fertilizer, if any, reducing runoff and the potential for nitrous dioxide to enter the atmosphere.

Although conventional lawns can store carbon, they do so inefficiently since they require frequent watering and mowing. That adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Also, frequent mowing keeps their root systems shallow.

Don’t have a native landscape? It is possible to increase the carbon storage of a typical yard with some simple steps.

  • Encourage deeper roots by watering less.
  • Mow less frequently to reduce emissions.
  • Leave the lawn clippings on the lawn to reduce the amount of carbon lost.

Simply watering less reduces the carbon footprint cost of maintaining a lawn, along with the emissions from mowing the yard. By utilizing less water, root systems will develop deeper creating greater underground carbon storage.

For inspiration, peruse our extensive library of native plants and trees — including shrubs, cacti, succulents and groundcovers.

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Guest Author
Our Guest Authors are fantastic former SAWS employees, incredible interns and community leaders in the local landscaping world. They are all as passionate as we are about saving water with beautiful, diverse landscapes.
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